What would you do if your doctor prescribed a medication that made your life better, but you couldn’t afford it? This is not a hypothetical question. Many people are caught in that kind of double-bind, like one reader who needs a pricey interstitial cystitis drug.
Will the Interstitial Cystitis Drug Be Cheaper in Canada?
Q. I take a prescription called Elmiron. My current health insurance company will not pay for this interstitial cystitis drug until I have reached a $6,500 deductible.
The pharmacy says I’d have to pay over $1,000 per month for my prescription. I would like to try ordering from Canada but I do not know which pharmacies are legitimate. Can you help?
A. Pentosan polysulfate (Elmiron) is used to ease the discomfort of interstitial cystitis. This condition causes urinary urgency, frequent urination and pelvic pain.
Elmiron costs about a third as much in Canada as in the U.S. That’s still pricey, but substantially less than $1000 a month.
Finding a Canadian Online Pharmacy:
To help you find a reputable Canadian pharmacy, we are sending you a link to our online resource, Saving Money on Medicines. Access to this Guide can be purchased at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. CanadaDrugs.com, JanDrugs.com and ADVPharmacy.com would all be able to supply your medicine.
Buying from Canada Does Not Count Towards Deductible:
Keep in mind that anything you purchase from a Canadian pharmacy will not count towards your deductible. Although the FDA does not approve of drug imports from abroad, Customs rarely interferes with purchases for personal use.
The Doughnut Hole Is Like a Deductible:
Several years ago, a reader sent us this question:
Q. Could you please tell me if there are reputable Canadian drug companies? Our medical bills are destroying us financially!
A. You are not alone. A lot of people are feeling the pinch of a bad economy. Many older people are about to fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, in which they must pay 100 percent of drug bills out of their own pockets until expenditures exceed $4,950 in 2017.
For someone on a limited budget, going from a $10 copay to $120 for a prescription is shocking. We are sending you our Guide to Saving Money on Medicine with a list of reliable Canadian drug stores that accept prescriptions from the U.S. We also discuss how to use generic drugs safely.
In response, we had a question about whether cost-saving purchases from Canadian drugstores qualify for Part D Medicare, the part of Medicare that helps older people afford their prescription drugs. Buying from Canadian drugstores may save money, but it won’t count towards getting through the doughnut hole. Once seniors meet that deductible amount, Part D does provide substantial assistance on drug costs.